The protests in Sudan against the military authorities of the Sovereign Council of Transition continue unabated, and on January 13 a senior Sudanese defense official died during clashes between protesters and police forces.
The initiative of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Volker Perthes, who on January 11 announced the launch of a political initiative aimed at defining a national dialogue, doesn’t seem to have been successful. The Association of Sudanese Professionals (SPA) has rejected the initiative of Perthes “if the negotiating table should also include military forces”, in fact demolishing any possibility of compromise favored by the UN.
Any possibility of dialogue that includes the military, SPA representatives have argued, represents a de facto legitimization of the military government, which opposition forces do not intend to support in any way.
The new Special Representative for the Horn of Africa of the U.S. State Department, David Satterfield, announced that this week he will travel to Ethiopia and Sudan, accompanied by Assistant Secretary Molly Phee. In Khartoum they will meet with the leaders of the Sovereign Council of Transition, political representatives of the resigning government but also political representatives of the oppositions, activists and non-governmental organizations.
Satterfiled’s visit is intended to demonstrate to Sudan’s political and civil authorities that the U.S. commitment to furthering the process of stability and democratization in the country continues to be a priority for the U.S. government, and that Jeffrey Feltman’s resignation is not an obstacle or a change in Washington’s approach to the country.
Sudan eventually closed the border with Ethiopia at Metema again on January 15, ten days after reopening and allowing transit, following a lengthy closure period established last July as a result of the killing of a Sudanese defense official.
Transits had been re-authorized in order to facilitate the flow especially of fuel transport vehicles, and the reason for the new closure has not been communicated by the Sudanese authorities, although many believe it to be connected to the persistent conflicts related to the control of the al-Fashaga area.